A recently released study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State University describing the effects of energy development on mule deer in the Piceance Basin, has prompted public discussion and media reports about energy companies and wildlife, and whether the two can coexist. Several companies are currently active in the Piceance, including XTO, Encana, WPX, Marathon, and Petroleum Development Corporation. According to the study, because some have been exploring at an almost constant pace in the last decade, portions of the basin’s habitat has become fragmented, leading to changes in mule deer movement and migration patterns in those areas. CPW says although the impacts to mule deer from energy exploration are a cause for concern, the same energy companies working in the area have also voluntarily funded invaluable, ongoing research – including the most recent study – to learn more about impacts, and possible solutions. This has helped to develop mitigation programs that allow critical energy development to continue in the Piceance, while minimizing or offsetting impacts to wildlife. As a result, CPW will continue to provide recommendations to all energy companies for exploring in a responsible manner. CPW officials say corporations often get all the blame for impacts to ecosystems, however, they say an increasing human population, increasing outdoor recreation in critical winter range, predation, impacts from severe winters or drought, high traffic volume, disease and an overall degradation of habitat are also to blame for declining mule deer populations. They add that it is important to recognize when those corporations willingly come forward to offer help and find solutions. You can see details of the report by clicking here.